Aren’t we all social butterflies looking to connect and establish meaningful relationships? Connecting with others is important, especially when there’s a ruthless pandemic on the prowl.
Social media makes it easy for you to stay in the loop.
You get to keep up with the latest fads, explore new habits, and unleash your creative beast. Also, family and friends on the other side of the world is a WhatsApp message or Messenger call away.
Everyone seems to use these platforms, including ‘hip’ grandparents and curious preteens.
Social media touts many benefits. But research shows that even a tool that’s a force for good, can make you feel awful about yourself.
Why is this the case?
This article explores social media and mental health. Specifically, I talk about 6 negative effects of social media on mental health.
Negative Effects of Social Media on Mental Health
Let’s put this out there: not all social media use is bad. It all boils down to your mental resilience, and where you are on your mental health journey. Dig deep within your core and assess the impact social media wields on you.
Consider how using social media makes you feel. After a few minutes of scrolling, do you feel deflated or less than?
These are all signs of the negative effects of social media on mental health. To help you navigate your emotional wellbeing, think about these 6 ways in which using social media might impact you.
It was Theodore Roosevelt who first said that “comparison is the thief of joy.” He was dropping some major truth bombs back then.
Social media distorts reality.
It gets you to pitch your life against a total stranger’s. These platforms only seem to create flawless beings and demigods fitted for worship.
Instagram is the playground where influencers flaunt their ‘perfect’ bodies. Jocks go shirtless to let their muscles rip. Absolute strangers brag about their $4000 Chanel purse or latest acquired Tesla ride. Everyone else is enjoying explosive, fulfilling careers, but you’re stuck in a dead-end job.
Through your lens, their lives are perfect. As you follow their every move, your existence feels smaller and uneventful.
Do you see how senseless comparisons can throw your mental sanity through the door? You choke your happiness and wellbeing because you’re stuck on what others have, but you don’t.
Everything is not what it seems on social media.
Those perfect lives are everything else but perfect.
Don’t allow your heart to become caught up in a world that doesn’t exist, only to kill your self-worth and esteem. Find joy and contentment in the little you have, while you work for what you want.
Emotional Isolation and Loneliness
How many of your social media friends would you recognize if they stared you in the face? You have thousands of followers (or friends), but do these people care about you?
Sure, they interact with the things you post. They smash the ‘like’ button as soon as you make an update, but can you have a heart-to-heart conversation on down days?
While social media connects you with others, could it isolate you?
Social media isn’t a substitute for real-time, face-to-face conversations. Hiding behind social media doesn’t increase opportunities for emotional support. Rather, it lowers them, according to a study.
There’s a strong correlation between social media and loneliness. Increased social media use lowers social loneliness but increases emotional loneliness. While you get to interact with others, your emotional battery isn’t charged. It’s drained because it lacks the sort of emotional support that matters.
Can you see the devastation this has on mental health?
You have a community that allows you to air your dirty laundry, but not one to meet your emotional needs. This is one of the negative effects of social media on mental health you need to watch out for.
Rather than allow social media to draw you away from close relationships, log off for a moment. Focus on how real friendships could add spark to your eyes.
Low Emotional Intelligence and Identity Crisis
Increased social media use could cause your emotional health to plummet. As someone who struggles with a mental disorder, social media could fuel the fire.
You could become so in sync with social media but lose sight of what’s real. Face-to-face conversations become painful and awkward. You find it difficult to connect with real people on an emotional level. Yet, you teem with confidence and beat your chest behind bogus names on sites like Reddit.
Isn’t this the perfect recipe for an identity crisis?
Individuals hooked on social media find it difficult to identify with their emotions. There’s a name for this condition.
A study showed that exaggerated social media usage is linked to alexithymia. This deficiency is found in individuals with low emotional intelligence. They are often more stressed, depressed, and anxious.
How often are you smacked in the face by your phone while scrolling through social media in the dead of night? Too often to count?
The fear of missing out may cause anxiety and sleepless nights. Instead of resting, you’re worked up over celebrity relationship entanglements and whatnots.
Late-night scrolls on Facebook and Instagram keep melatonin levels down. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for helping you sleep. Decreased levels of this hormone contribute to mood disorders and sleepless nights. This is because light exposure subdues melatonin release.
Your device is preventing you from sleeping, which has repercussions.
With not enough rest, it’s easy to misplace your glasses, although they’re sitting on top of your face. You’re also more susceptible to develop mental health problems. You’re more irritable and emotionally charged.
As one of the most prevalent negative effects of social media on mental health, you need to be on guard. This is because you need enough sleep to feel refreshed and build emotional resilience.
With sleep deprivation, you impair cognitive health and emotional processes in the brain.
This creates room for less positivity and more negative hogwash.
“Oh, wow! Where did the time go?”
How often do you have to drill that question in?
What you expected to be a simple status update went sideways. The next thing you know, you’re hours into watching funny videos and makeup tutorials.
Spending time on social media platforms like YouTube isn’t a bad thing. But when that’s all you do, there’s a big problem. Allowing social media to eat up huge blocks of time prevents you from getting stuff done.
This is a typical self-sabotaging act. When you spend more time on social media than your goals, you create a vicious cycle. This cycle leaves you feeling worthless, unfulfilled, and unaccomplished.
A lack of self-discipline fuels negative self-talk and ideas. You think you lack what it takes to become successful, but that’s not the case. You lack success not because you aren’t competent. Rather, you lack success because you aren’t disciplined.
Trolls and Gremlins
Social media is big on creating trolls and gremlins.
These internet bullies prey on your insecurities to validate themselves. The more you put yourself out there on social media, the more susceptible you are to harsh criticisms.
Many YouTubers face this type of scrutiny and scorn. Em Ford, a popular YouTube sensation, shared her battles with gremlins in a telling video. They called her gross, disgusting, ugly, and so many other unspeakable names.
Those hateful comments changed to endearing ones after she applied makeup. Alas, that admiration didn’t last. People continued with their criticisms, even after she covered her acne.
To date, Em’s video has over 30 million views. It’s worth adding to your collection of videos to watch. It will remind you of some of the negative effects of social media on mental health.
If you’re thin-skinned, those keyboard and internet bullies will chew you up and spit you out. Cyberbullying isn’t child’s play. It’s a major contributor to “increased depression and PTSD.”
Be Social Media Wise
You don’t need a manual to use social media. (Although those do exist.)
You do, however, need a bit of discretion. If you get emotionally and mentally charged while scrolling, that’s your cue to run for the hills.
Your mental sanity is everything.
While you use social media to connect, avoid comparing your life with someone else’s. Don’t isolate yourself from family and well-meaning, face-to-face conversations. Build emotional intelligence, not tear it down.
It’s okay to miss a few updates to get a goodnight’s rest. You cannot restore lost time, but you can choose to log off social media. If you forget all else, never forget this one thing. Social media isn’t evil, but it can have negative consequences on your mental wellbeing. Exercise wisdom when you go online.
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There are so many people out there who are suffering in silence. Let’s put an end to the silence. Let’s make everyone aware of the negative effects of social media on mental health.